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Out of Iraq? Maybe Not

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Reprinted from Truthout

This Just In: the war in Iraq is not over.

There has been plenty of news of late to obscure this fact, to be sure: GOP Senator Bunning of Kentucky single-handedly screwed hundreds of thousands of Americans with his obstructionism in the well of the Senate before finally backing down amid a storm of criticism. Kay Bailey Hutchinson failed to upend the sitting Texas governor's re-election bid, thanks in no small part to Tea Party sentimentality. The health care reform debate is back on the front burner, and the American people have been getting a half-assed education on what "reconciliation" means from news media people who can barely spell the word. Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel, who has been in the Capitol building longer than the sink in the men's room, has taken a leave of absence from his committee chairmanship under a cloud of scandal.

It's all very interesting, and for reporters who adore writing about process instead of policy, or facts for that matter, there has been plenty of grist for the mill.

But there has also been this:

Even with Iraqi security forces on a heightened state of alert in advance of Sunday's national elections, dozens of Iraqis were killed on Wednesday in a devastating series of suicide bombings in the restive city of Baquba.

The attacks began with two car bombings near campaign offices and government buildings Then, as swarms of people rushed to hospitals, ferrying the dead and wounded and looking for relatives, a man hiding a suicide belt under a dirty white robe entered the emergency room, a local policeman said.

Grieving relatives screamed amidst the rubble, calling out the names of loved ones even as security officers scrambled to lock down the entire city. The attacks left at least 31 people dead and 55 wounded, according to local security officials. The attacks in Baquba were similar to the large bombings in Baghdad in recent months, with militants striking several targets in a coordinated and deadly fashion.

... and this:

Followers of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Tuesday accused Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of starting "a psychological war" against them ahead of next week's parliamentary elections.

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The accusations come amid increased speculation that the Sadrists could have an increased role in the new parliament, potentially receiving more votes than candidates from the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) within the Iraqi National Alliance, al-Maliki's main Shiite Muslim competition.

... and this:

The civilian death toll in Iraq jumped to 211 people compared with the previous month, officials said on Monday, a sign of rising violence in the run-up to a March 7 parliamentary election. Overall violence in Iraq has fallen in the last two years, but a series of blasts in recent months shattered the peace before a national vote, seen as a crucial test as Iraq emerges from years of war, sanctions and sectarian slaughter. In January, 135 people died violent deaths.

On February 5, twin car bombs killed at least 40 people and wounded 145 others in Iraq's holy city of Kerbala as hundreds of thousands of Shia pilgrims observed a religious rite. Sunni Islamist insurgents such as al Qaeda and members of Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath party are still capable of staging devastating attacks. The attacks appear aimed to undermine Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shia-led government before the parliamentary election and highlight the shortcomings of the security forces.

... and this:

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BAGHDAD - A roadside bomb near a liquor shop killed the store's owner and wounded three people in western Baghdad, police said.

TARMIYA - A motorbike packed with explosives wounded nine people, including four policemen and two members of a government backed militia, in Tarmiya, 25 km (15 miles) north of Baghdad, an interior ministry source said.

YUSUFIYA - A roadside bomb went off near a market, wounding three people in the town of Yusufiya, 20 km (12 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.

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William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know and The Greatest Sedition Is Silence.

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